Joseph J. Jaroschak Field, home of Saint Peter’s soccer, softball, and baseball, is nestled in the far west corner of Lincoln Park—neighbor to U.S. Highway 1&9 and the park’s wetlands restoration.
“I would say it’s one of the worst [Division I] fields in the country for soccer,” said one former soccer player, who has asked to remain anonymous. “It’s bumpy. There’s two different types of grass. Some areas are soft. Some areas are hard.”
Saint Peter’s athletic director, Bryan Felt, acknowledges the field is in need of some renovations and the athletic department is continuing developments with the field landscaping company, Brightview, to improve the soccer, softball, and baseball fields.
Felt was hired as Saint Peter’s new athletic director in September, following Dave Bryngil’s two month stint as interim after Bo Pierman was let go from the position after 15 months.
“When I came in, I certainly recognized that the fields were an area that would need some work,” said Felt. “I have some big plans that I’d like to do out there but, for now, we’ve invested in making sure the surface is in better shape because that is of the utmost importance.”
Jaroschak’s soccer field hosts the home contests of both the men’s and women’s soccer team for a combined 15 homes games in the 2017 season and 16 games in the 2016 season.
“The home field during the summer wasn't too bad to play on,” said former women’s soccer player Kaitlyn Lima. “As time went on in the season, it started getting worse and worse because of the weather conditions and playing on it when rain didn't make it any better.”
Jaroschak is one of two MAAC Conference soccer fields which still uses real grass. The other natural-grass field, Lessing Field at Fairfield University, underwent a massive renovation project in 2003 to install an irrigation and drainage system as well as high-durability sod, according to Fairfield’s athletics website.
“We can’t blame the field for losses. The other team has to play on it too,” said the anonymous source. “But it definitely affected morale. You never want to wake up on a game day and say ‘Oh man, we have to play on this bad field again.’”
Felt has acknowledged these issues since the beginning of his employment at Saint Peter’s, and believes there will be improvements in the field within the coming seasons.
The university extended its partnership with Brightview under the leadership of Bryngil. The soccer field surface was resodded in late August and the renovations trickled into the 2017 soccer schedule so the teams played at Caven Point early in the season.
“I think Brightview is doing a lot to help get the fields in much better playing shape,” said Felt. “We have to be consistent, which is what I don’t think has been happening in the past. So hopefully now, with [Brightview] on board, we can be consistent with the treatments and maintenance of the fields so that’s not a problem.”
Jaroschak is also home to university’s home baseball and softball fields. In his first few months, Felt has approved some field work to be done including new soil on the pitching mound and batter’s box on both fields, and redoing some of the infield work. With the spring season approaching, he says there are some short term plans to improve to these fields.
“I would really love to get new scoreboards up for the season,” said Felt. “That’s an aggressive timeline. I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’m seeing if we can get it done.”
Niagara University, another MAAC conference contestant, is currently in the process of a complete redesign of its softball and baseball complexes—including artificial playing surface, new dugouts, and enhanced backstops— calling these investments as a “significant recruiting advantage” on the university’s athletic website.
Former softball player Samantha Storms believes renovations and maintenance of sports facilities can have a lasting impact on recruitment and the overall performance of a sports team.
“I think it would be easier to recruit if we had nicer facilities. If we had better recruits, we would’ve performed better,” she said. “Who wants to go to a school where there are no locker rooms or even a field house?”
Felt is currently identifying certain ways to fund these areas that need improvement, which means identifying private donors.
“We’re going to need former student athletes and other alumni to get there. But that’s on me and the folks in our department to try to help and figure that out,” he said. “In the world of college athletics, facilities are a big, big part of it. That’s why I want to see our facilities at a top level because I think that can help all our teams in so many different ways.”